Definition of willful in US English:


(also wilful)


  • 1(of an immoral or illegal act or omission) intentional; deliberate.

    ‘willful acts of damage’
    • ‘She was found not guilty of a third charge of wilful neglect.’
    • ‘Even when others act where you have not done so, you continue with your willful neglect in the face of crisis and misery.’
    • ‘This willful act was in direct violation of Article 5 of the United Nations Convention on children.’
    • ‘Is there a danger of much being lost or obscured from either willful or unintentional neglect?’
    • ‘Well, clearly, to be murder in the first degree in California, it has to be willful, deliberate or premeditated.’
    • ‘Several were notorious for their willful neglect of logistic matters.’
    • ‘There is no greater betrayal than to impoverish a generation yet unborn by willful acts of amnesia.’
    • ‘He also criticised the failure of the Government to give full effect to the Children's Act 2001 which deals with willful neglect by parents.’
    • ‘Secondly, the party disobeying the contempt order must do so in a deliberate and willful fashion in order to satisfy the criminal nature of the contempt proceedings.’
    • ‘We control universal processes, as a willful act of mankind, through these discoveries.’
    • ‘They must now prepare for a criminal trial within months, long after they were charged with wilful neglect in public office.’
    • ‘This is a financial scandal of the highest order - a wilful, calculated and entirely deliberate squandering of other people's money.’
    • ‘In Brian's life, there was no unbelief or willful rebellion or willful acts of disobedience.’
    • ‘She stated that the unauthorized access of the voicemail system was willful and intentional.’
    • ‘One cannot justify the willful and callous act of deliberately choosing to remove the shells of conscious crabs and allowing the animals to writhe in a hot pan, cooking them to death as they struggle.’
    • ‘But he is given immunity for the deliberate, wilful telling of a falsehood.’
    • ‘Well, I am not the sort of person to encourage illegal activity, but in the face of such wilful neglect and destructiveness, flying pickets would not seem out of place.’
    • ‘They depict revolutions as willful acts of rebellion that inevitably produce terrible results because of the evil inherent in the very idea of revolution.’
    • ‘As the article pointed out, a pet was ‘murdered,’ killed by wilful and deliberate action.’
    • ‘It means wilful act or omission, negligent act or omission, or malicious act or omission.’
    deliberate, intentional, intended, done on purpose, premeditated, planned, calculated, purposeful, conscious, knowing
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    1. 1.1 Having or showing a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences or effects.
      ‘the pettish, willful side of him’
      • ‘Here's the advice that helped me raise two willful and determined kids into delightful and productive adults.’
      • ‘Stubborn, willful, bold and determined, natives born into this combination all take themselves and their actions very seriously.’
      • ‘As the younger became more wilful and wayward, making the most of her privileged status, the elder became more withdrawn, worried about her destiny.’
      • ‘‘I was determined, wilful, quietly making my own decisions and forging my own path,’ she says.’
      • ‘Stubborn and willful were among the many words that described the beautiful woman in front of him.’
      • ‘They can also be willful, arrogant and stubborn.’
      • ‘Is it her willful, contrary nature that comes out?’
      • ‘It is the child of a restaurant (rather than an outlet of a company) and is thus wilful, original and headstrong as well as undeniably related.’
      • ‘We can take the Middle Path and preserve our freedom without acting like stubborn and willful children every time we are asked to obey the rules.’
      • ‘Stubbornly self-righteous and willful, Higgins demonstrates his ideals in his brazen disregard for the Victorian rules of conduct.’
      • ‘She's willful, quiet, and stubborn, but, above all, passionate.’
      • ‘I laughed at loud at her stubborn and willful spirit.’
      • ‘All describe Scorpio as intense, wilful and determined, yet most of our Scorpios are classed as Librans by the siderealists!’
      • ‘The newly married couple was very happy, although many people warned the kindly man about the willful and headstrong nature of his new step-daughter.’
      • ‘It seems his muse, once so pliable, has become perverse and wilful: I commiserate.’
      • ‘Dash is willful and disobedient because he's bored - he wants to use his super-speed to excel in sports.’
      • ‘First there is the murder of one of the police deputies and then, even more alarmingly, the arrival of her willful and wayward daughter.’
      • ‘Alice had been willful and headstrong practically from birth.’
      • ‘He is willful and greatly determined, stubborn and close-minded, but a born leader.’
      • ‘For years they give you not a jot of trouble, then, wham, they turn into wilful risk-takers who fall in love with little regard for the consequences.’
      headstrong, self-willed, strong-willed, with a will of one's own, determined to have one's own way
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Middle English: from the noun will + -ful.